Call for Research Proposals 2013
Bioversity International announces two Fellowships, for up to US$ 20,000 each, which
will be available for 2013 to carry out research, from 3 to 12 months, on a wide range of
biophysical, economic and social themes related to the conservation and use of of genetic
resources in developing countries. Multi-disciplinary research is particularly encouraged.
These opportunities are available thanks to support from Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.,
United States and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Australia.
The fellowships are intended to cover travel, stipend for living expenses, bench fees,
materials, insurance, conference participation and publications. They can be held
concurrently with other sources of support.
How to apply?
Applications should be submitted in English, French or Spanish by 11 November 2012
to VFFfirstname.lastname@example.org. The Application form and Guidelines can be downloaded here or
requested by email.
The successful applicants will be informed by 30 April 2013 and are required to take up
their Fellowships before 31 December 2013.
Who can apply?
Eligibility for this call is determined on the basis of applicants meeting a number of general
criteria and additional criteria for the GRDC-supported fellowship.
Applicants should be nationals of low and medium income countries, according to the
Human Development Index
Applicants should be no more than 35 years of age.
Applicants should hold at least a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject area.
Topic of research
All applications must address one of the Research Themes described below.
Proposed research may be carried out in any country outside the applicant’s home country.
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(for the GRDC-supported fellowship only)
Applicants for the GRDC-supported fellowship must also meet one of the four thematic criteria
below, in addition to meeting the location requirement :
• Target a species that is a priority for both Australia and the home country.
• Target an alternative, neglected or underutilized species with either environmental or economic
potential for Australia.
• Work on any of the following specific crops: wheat, barley, oats, sorghum, cereal rye, triticale,
maize, canary seed, millets/panicum, canola, linseed, safflower, soybeans, sunflowers,
chickpeas, cowpeas, fababeans, field peas, lentils, lupins, mung beans, navy beans, peanuts,
pigeon peas and vetch.
• Use biotechnology in support of efficient use of plant genetic resources.
• Research must be carried out at an Australian research institute or at the International Maize
and Wheat Improvement Center - CIMMYT or at the International Center for Agricultural
Research in the Dry Areas - ICARDA (members of CGIAR Consortium).
Applications must include:
Bioversity • Cover letter
• Completed application form
diversity in • Full curriculum vitae (with a list of publications)
gender and • Research proposal prepared following the Guidelines for Preparation of Research Proposals
its training • Letter of acceptance from the proposed host institute (should follow the Guidelines)
and capacity • Letter of support from an institute in a developing country (preferably the home institute)
development which should specify why the research is important to the institute and should also identify
programmes. the support that will be provided to the applicant upon return.
For further information please contact:
Via dei Tre Denari, 472/a
00057 Maccarese, Rome
Fax: (39) 0661979661; Email: VFFemail@example.com
Bioversity International established the Fellowship Fund in
1989, to commemorate the unique contributions to plant
science of Academician Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov and Sir
Otto Frankel. To date, 39 scientists from 24 developing
countries have received awards to carry out innovative
research related to the conservation and use of plant genetic
resources, outside of their home countries for a period of
three months to one year.
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Applications for both the GRDC and Pioneer-supported
Fellowships must address one of the following
Use of agrobiodiversity as an instrument for climate change adaptation
In many contexts, climate change adaptation can be expected to rely on the maintenance and
strengthening of local systems and their natural, human and social capital assets. These assets
include agrobiodiversity, locally held knowledge and informal institutions underpinning collective
action to reduce vulnerability and ensure food security. There is, however, a paucity of formal
evidence on this, relevant to policy debates. An assessment of empirical data on agrobiodiversity
conservation and sustainable use as an efficient instrument for climate change adaptation can be
expected to provide crucial information for informing the policy debate and adaptation strategies.
This issue may be addressed by studies that (1) review existing data in innovative ways or (2)
that gather new empirical evidence on interventions that strengthen local capacities in on-farm
conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources (e.g. community seed banks, participatory
plant breeding, and related efforts).
Research to enhance the conservation of genetic resources of a tree species important
to the livelihoods of the rural poor
Research questions within this theme may include:
• What are the patterns of diversity and what do they reveal about priorities for conservation (in
situ, circa situ and ex situ)?
• What are the threats to the viability of populations and how might they be addressed?
• How do current patterns of use affect the diversity of the species?
• How effective are protected areas in conserving the species and its genetic diversity?
Sustainable diets for improved nutrition and health
Redirecting the global agricultural system towards greater biodiversity in order ensure better
nutrition is vitally important. But the redirection must be done with a deeper understanding of
the nutritional, economic, environmental, dietary and cultural point of view. The current global
agricultural system is producing enough food, in aggregate, but access to and consumption
of sufficient food that is culturally acceptable, affordable and nutritious is more challenging.
Projections for the next 10 to 50 years further strengthen the need for improving the quality and
sustainability of the diet especially given the challenges imposed by climate change and increasing
populations with a rising appetite for environmentally costly animal source foods. What is needed,
however, is food that contributes to a healthy diet that is appealing, flavorful, sustainable, and
accessible at a reasonable cost. Determining these dimensions in a diet in ways that can be
measured and analyzed to recommend appropriate policy and programme options to address
both over and undernutrition will contribute to improved nutrition and sustainable development.
Management of Musa diseases through a better understanding of specific host-
pathogen interactions and co-evolution
Host plant resistance is widely recognized as an economically and ecologically sound approach
for managing Musa diseases. However, resistance is often not durable in farmers’ fields, because
in the field other pathotypes of the pathogen may be present than those used in the screening trials
or because pathogens may evolve to overcome resistance of the host. A better knowledge of the
close interaction and co-evolution of host diversity and different pathotypes/races of a pathogen
will help Musa improvement programmes in producing more durable sources of resistance and
thus allow more sustainable disease management.
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Policy research in support of implementation of the International Treaty for Plant
Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture entered into force in
2004. Parties to the Treaty are committed to creating a common pool of genetic resources to support
agricultural research, plant breeding and training. Countries need to implement combinations of
polices, laws and administrative guidelines to become fully active participants in the common
pool. The effective implementation of the Treaty at the national level requires a comprehensive
collection and assessment of baseline information about plant genetic resources conservation
and use in each country and protracted engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. National
policy makers can use those inputs to identify options for implementing the Treaty, including for
example how community-based plant genetic resource management initiatives can be involved
more directly in the implementation of the Treaty. Such work may be addressed by studies that
1) improve understanding of the role that such initiatives play in the conservation and provision
of germplasm of all kinds or 2) improve understanding of how community gene/seed banks
initiatives may complement national and international gene-banks.
Gene discovery in crop wild relatives
Crop wild relatives (CWR) are a valuable source of genetic variability that has been the basis for
crop evolution and will be increasingly important in adapting agriculture to changing growing
conditions. CWR held in collections can be mined for traits and genes of interest to breeders.
Identifying these traits and genes would not only accelerate breeding efforts, but also provide
incentives for the conservation of these CWR in genebanks and in their natural habitats.
Facilitating better use of genebank materials
Genebanks worldwide hold millions of crop and crop wild relative accessions, but fewer accessions
are used than could be. It is not clear why so little genetic material is put to use. A more complete
picture of the extent of use, as well as constraints to use and strategies for enhancing the use of
genebank materials in breeding or in farmers’ fields will help ensure that genebanks are fully used.
Researching neglected and underutilized species for food and nutrition security
The world relies on very few species and varieties for food and nutritional security today. That
creates a situation of high vulnerability for humanity. Hundreds of underutilized species, currently
at the margins of R&D have high nutritional content but cannot compete with commodity crops
due to several bottlenecks along the value chain, such as the lack of improved germplasm,
inefficient agronomic practices, ineffective processing, limited value addition technologies, poor
marketing and a lack of supportive policies.
Applying economics to agrobiodiversity conservation, sustainable use and policy
Many crop and livestock genetic resources tend to be undervalued as they have a range of non-
market values associated with them (e.g. adaptive traits, options for the future). This has resulted in
a bias against conservation and increasing levels of threat. How important are these unaccounted
for values? How to use such values to support conservation and sustainable use? What incentives
are needed to encourage conservation and can such incentives be pro-poor? Answering these
questions requires the development of appropriate valuation techniques, decision-support tools
(combining diversity and conservation cost data) and the design of cost-effective policy options.
IPGRI and INIBAP operate under the name of Bioversity International, a member of
CGIAR Consortium. CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food secure future.
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